Living with, supporting and caring for a person with a dementia diagnosis can be very challenging, particularly if your loved one begins acting out or becomes aggressive or agitated while you are caring for them. One of the biggest questions that arises for a caregiver in these situations is “why?” “Why are they upset?” “Why are they acting this way?” “Why can’t they sleep?” Why, why, why.
Obviously being in the role of caregiver can become very stressful, especially when you can’t be certain what is needed to help your loved one feel better, sleep, eat or just relax. While it can be challenging at times as the caregiver, the best thing you can do is try to understand what is causing the behavior.
Here are some items to consider:
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that as with many human interactions, people change. Their responses may be different than you expect – especially when you factor in an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis. It is important to realize that you may not always resolve a situation in the same way. It is also vital for you, as the caregiver, to understand that your loved one may no longer feel a connection with you as a wife, daughter or friend. The progression of their disease may have taken away their memory of you as that special person in their life. They may see you simply as a friendly acquaintance or even, a complete stranger. Try not to take offense to this, rather focus on caring for them in the moment, whomever they think you are.
Remembering that a positive approach is key, consider the following advice:
Keep a Journal
Taking stock of your loved ones overall condition will help you narrow your focus to probable causes for any type of behavior/acting out that may be occurring. A great practice to begin is to keep a journal of behaviors and related causes which will help you in the future to find a resolution more quickly. Also, how you approach your loved one during a time of discontent, will make all the difference.
Considering the approach advice above, here are some key items to include in your log or journal:
In the future, you can reference your behavior log and have some ideas regarding what has worked in the past. Overall, approaching your loved one positively and establishing routines will help you and your family member bring calm to the situation more quickly.
Journaling behaviors is one of the most effective ways that you can ensure that you are responding in the same way as in the past. In fact, we utilize behavior tracking tools with our Maplewood Senior Living residents as well.
It’s OK to Ask for Help
Obviously, your intention is to provide the help that your loved one needs for as long as possible. However, it is also just as important to remember that you are permitted to ask for help. Caregiving for a loved one with dementia can be very challenging and stressful. It commonly takes a toll on the caregiver – physically and emotionally. If you have reached this point, it’s important to remember that there are people out there to help you.
All Maplewood Senior Living communities offer Support Groups, free and open to the public. Attend regularly, or just when you feel you need that extra help or support. These sessions provide an open forum for caregivers to discuss ideas, offer each other advice, and establish a sense of community, as it is so important to remember that you are not alone on this journey. Contact us for more information on upcoming support groups at Maplewood Senior Living.
Assistance comes in many forms, as well. And, our Maplewood Senior Living communities can take care of your loved one when it becomes too cumbersome for you and your family to manage on your own. It’s important for you to remember to take care of yourself and sometimes that means it’s actually physically and emotionally better for you to have others handle the “heavy lifting” of caregiving. Contact us to learn more about how Maplewood Senior Living may be able to help you and your loved one.
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